The University of London is a federal mega university made up of 31 affiliates: 19 separate university institutions, and 12 research institutes. As such, the University of London is the largest university in the UK by number of full-time students, with 135,090 campus-based students and over 40,000 in the University of London External System (the Open University has more total students, but most of them are part-time).
The university was first established by a Royal Charter in 1836, which brought together in federation London University (now University College London) and King's College (now King's College London), to establish today's federally-structured University of London.
The nine largest institutions of the federal university, usually termed the colleges, are Birkbeck, Goldsmiths, King's College London, the London Business School, the London School of Economics and Political Science, Queen Mary, Royal Holloway, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and University College London (UCL) . It should be noted that Imperial College London left the University of London.
The University of London owns a considerable central London estate of 180 buildings centred in the Bloomsbury district, near the Russell Square Tube Station. The University also owns many of the squares which formed part of the Bedford Estate, including Gordon Square, Tavistock Square, Torrington Square and Woburn Square.
Some 135,090 students (approximately 5% of all UK students) attend one of the University of London's affiliated schools.
Though most sports teams are organised at the college level, ULU does run a number of sports clubs of its own, some of which (for example the basketball team) compete in BUCS leagues. The union also organises its own leagues for college teams to participate in. These leagues and sports clubs are supported by Friends of University of London Sport which aims to promote them.
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